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GMB Protest Outside of Next Distribution - Friday, 5th Dec at 11am

28 Nov 2014

Protest Over Next Not Offering Jobs In UK As Paul Heaton And Jacqui Abbot Tour Supporting Next Workers Returns To Yorkshire
This gross abuse of UK and migrant workers by NEXT is not unique as union estimates show that one million workers are exploited as posted workers annually says GMB

GMB is organizing a protest on Friday 5th December in South Elmsall, West Yorkshire in response to the report that NEXT offered Christmas jobs to Polish workers at the warehouse there before being advertised in Britain. See notes to editors for text of report in the Daily Mirror.

This coincides with a GMB public protest today ( Friday 28th November) outside Wolverhampton NEXT as the national tour by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott comes to Wolverhampton calling on NEXT to pay enough hours of work for people to live on and as a first step towards £10 per hour living wage pay £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London. See notes to editors for GMB press release on this protest.

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott tour reaches Yorkshire on Friday 5th December when they play in Sheffield.

The details of the West Yorkshire protest – address to be confirmed- are as follows:


11am Friday 5th December
Outside NEXT warehouse
Emsall Way
South Elmsall,
West Yorkshire WF9 2XT.
GMB will present an ASBO to NEXT for failing to make work pay for workers and for being an employer that does not face up to its social responsibilities.

Paul Kenny, GMB General Secretary, said “This gross abuse of UK and migrant workers by NEXT is not unique. All over Europe there are labour agencies exploiting posted workers on a massive scale. Internal EU wide union estimates show that approximately one million workers are exploited as posted workers annually.

We have to face up to the brutal fact that whatever the European vision was on integration, harmony, economic advancement and political stability, what we currently have isn’t it.

The free movement of labour and the single market were to be balanced by the social charter where all the people of Europe would live in freedom and with those in the poorer economies, benefitting from the harmonisation of standards across all member states. There were to be standards on workers protection, TUPE, excessive hours, health & safety, information and consultation and so many others were meant to keep labour exploitation in check.

That dream has been chipped away at for years. Right wing governments and employer have engineered massive change in the direction of the EU vision. Judgements in the European Courts like Viking and Laval were the green light to massive assaults on organised labour across Europe, but especially in the UK.

From Lindsey Oil refinery to food production we have seen workers recruited in certain member states by agencies and exploited. They were shipped in “literally” in order to undermine the terms and conditions of existing workers on those contracts. Both sets of workers have been let down by UK Government, the EU Commission and the European Court.

On exploitation – don’t blame the exploited; damn those who exploit. This has been repeated up and down the country over recent years. And that is part of the discontent that extreme political parties turn into xenophobic rhetoric to win votes.

Look past the simplistic tag and face the challenge of exploitation. Let’s reach out to those migrant workers not attack them, but organise and protect them.”

End

Contact Yorkshire Lisa Johnson 07900 392228 or Tim Roache 07961 719545 or Kamaljeet Jandu, GMB National Inclusion & Diversity Officer on 07956 237178 or Mick Rix GMB National Officer on 07971 268343 or Martin Smith GMB National Organiser on 07974 251722

For Wolverhampton David Day 07957 251 927 or Samantha Jones 07939 874272 or for GMB on the tour and the protest organizers outside NEXT on 07880 316159 or 07939 975233 or GMB press office on 07921 289880 or 07974 251823.

Notes to editors

1 Text of article from Daily Mirror 28th November

Next Christmas jobs offered to Polish workers before being advertised in Britain, Mirror investigation reveals

A former Next worker has revealed that cheap Polish staff are being bussed in to the firm’s warehouse after getting jobs in an area where local unemployment is high. Paul Crowcroft spoke as a Mirror ­investigation found Eastern Europeans were being shipped over to fill the minimum wage posts weeks before they are even advertised here in Britain.

One Warsaw agency told how Next, run by Tory peer and donor Lord Wolfson, has already recruited 7,000 staff from Poland, who earn much less at home than here. Our exposé comes amid rising concern that some unscrupulous bosses are looking abroad for cheap labour at the expense of home-grown workers.

Former cleaner Mr Crowcroft said Polish workers began arriving earlier this month at Next’s warehouse in South Elmsall, West Yorks, ahead of the expected Christmas spending spree.

The 63-year-old, who is now retired, added: “They would suddenly turn up in busloads, seven coaches at a time. “There were bringing in them every day by minibus from places like ­Wakefield and Doncaster. “They were happy on the money because they got so little working back home in Poland. They were on the minimum wage. They weren’t getting as much as us full-time employees. “The Poles were being exploited but they didn’t seem to mind because they were getting more money here than they would have done at home.”

Unemployment is higher than average in the Yorkshire and Humber region, with more than 218,000 out of work.

But Next, which posted record profits of £695million last year, insisted: “We simply can’t recruit enough local people.” A spokesman said the firm is currently using 250 Polish workers and hires up to 500 a year. It claimed it advertises in their country first “every year” as it needs extra time to recruit from abroad.

Last month, Polish website flamejobs announced: “Dear All. The ­recruitment for Next warehouses has started.”

There was no mention of these jobs on the English language section of the website.
But – in Polish only – it invited people to an open day at offices in Warsaw.

The ad was seen by the Mirror on November 3 and the recruitment session took place three days later.

We monitored the careers pages of the Next website and two UK ­recruitment agencies and it was nearly two weeks after the open day before these jobs were on offer here.
The firm said it ­advertised in the UK on November 19.

We also emailed the two local Next recruiters, Meridian and Solsbury ­Solutions, asking for jobs in South Elmsall. Only one replied, with an offer for work at Superdrug.
When Next ­finally advertised the short-term jobs to Brits it said the salary was ­“excellent”.
But the basic rate was the minimum wage, £6.50 an hour.

This is picture of the building in Warsaw where a recruitment agency was recruiting for staff to work at Next in the UK. We filmed the boss covertly here offering a Polish worker a job

Our undercover investigator, posing as a jobseeker, went to the Warsaw open day and was told by Flame’s operations director ­Arseniusz Wolinski he was fielding “a hundred calls a day”. After a quick, simple English test, our man was told he could start at Next in weeks.
Mr Wolinski said: “There are 350 people going. Our company has sent 7,000 people there so far.” He told how pay started at £6.50 an hour, 20% less than Next’s full-time staff get. But that is up to four times more than the same job would pay in Poland. Mr Wolinski added: “If you become a contract worker, which means you get a permanent job after our three months’ contract, you can receive a 20% higher salary.”In fact, under British law, agency workers are entitled to the same pay and conditions as full timers after 12 weeks doing the same job.

Flame began arranging a string of buses direct from Warsaw to the South Elmsall warehouse this month, charging workers £100 a head.It finds staff places to stay with “no more than two people in a room” and rents of £50 to £65 a week.

Mr Wolinski added: “We organise ­transport, ­accommodation, bank account.” He said staff were paid a bonus of up to £4.25 an hour for “meeting targets”.But this was not handed out until the end of the 12-week contract to motivate workers stay until the end.

David Cameron is today expected to highlight plans to ban agencies from ­advertising British jobs only to foreign workers in an immigration speech.He promised in July: “We are banning ­overseas-only recruitment, legally requiring these agencies to advertise in English in the UK.”

The GMB union is campaigning for Next to offer a living wage to British workers. General Secretary Paul Kenny said: “All over Europe there are labour agencies exploiting ­temporary workers on a massive scale. “EU ­estimates show approximately one million are exploited as ‘posted’ workers and sent to work away from their home country every year.”

Next said 100 Christmas jobs at South Elmsall are still ­available but would not comment on whether it should offer better pay to fill them.

An article published on a Polish jobs website last year denied Poles got ­preferential ­treatment. It pointed out South Elmsall, with a ­population of 6,000, was small and said: “Finding local employees is bordering on the miraculous. “The English are not keen on ­physical work. Earnings do not meet their high expectations.”

Former Beautiful South singers Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott are playing a series of gigs outside Next stores as part of the GMB campaign. Heaton said: “People are working for companies that still make massive profits in these times of austerity and not receiving a fair wage.”


2 GMB press release dated 27th November

GMB PROTEST FOR LIVING WAGE AT WOLVERHAMPTON NEXT STORE ON 28TH NOVEMBER AS PAUL HEATON AND JACQUI ABBOTT SUPPORT NEXT WORKERS DURING TOUR

NEXT should pay enough hours of work for people to live on and as a first step towards £10 per hour living wage pay £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London says GMB

GMB, the union for retail workers, will hold a public protest on Friday 28th November outside Wolverhampton NEXT unit to coincide with a national tour by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott which comes to Wolverhampton on Friday 28th November.

GMB, the union for retail workers, is supporting the second leg a national tour with musician Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott to put public pressure on retailer NEXT to pay staff a living wage of £10 per hour.

GMB is calling on NEXT to pay wages and enough hours of work for people to live on. GMB is seeking as a first step £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London as a step towards the £10 per hour set by GMB Congress. NEXT employ 50,000 workers at over 500 stores, call centres and warehouses in the UK and Ireland.

Details of the protests are as follows:


At 3pm Friday 28th Nov
17-18 Dudley Street,
Wolverhampton, WV1 3EY


GMB will present an ASBO to store manager for NEXT failing to make work pay for workers as an employer that does not face up to its social responsibilities.
Paul headed up the Housemartins and Jacqui joined him in the Beautiful South from 1994. The tour kicked off on 21st Nov in Aberdeen and runs 22nd Newcastle, 23rd Bradford, 24th Blackburn, 26th Nottingham, 27th Cardiff, 28th Wolverhampton, 30th Glasgow, 1st December Warrington, 2nd Leicester, 4th Sheffield, 5th Manchester, 6th Bridlington, 9th Bexhill and 10th December London.

Material on NEXT employment practices will be given to concert goers al all 15 shows. There will also be protests outside Brighton NEXT locations with Paul and Jacqui during the tour. See details below. There will also be a protest in Yorkshire next week during the tour.

In March NEXT reported a 12% increase in annual profits to £695m. NEXT says it expects profits in 2014 to rise by up to £770m. NEXT said January that it was generating more cash than can be invested in the business so it paid a special £300m dividend to shareholders.

NEXT currently pay £6.70 per hour to those 21 and over and £5.84 to those aged 18 to 20. GMB is aware of that many jobs are for 12.5 hours per week or less in some stores. Some store staff may get a bonus which the company claim can amount to an additional 4% to 7% on hourly rates. This will leave the majority of staff well below a living wage of £7.85 per hour and £9.20per hour in London.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for retail staff, said “GMB is calling on a very profitable NEXT to pay wages and enough hours of work for people to live on. GMB is calling on NEXT to pay as a first step £7.85 per hour and £9.20 per hour in London.

GMB members tell us that in their experience you need at least £10 an hour and enough hours to have a decent life free from benefits and tax credits. Less than £10 an hour means just existing not living. It means a life of isolation, unable to socialise. It means a life of constant anxiety over paying bills and of borrowing from friends, family and pay day loan sharks just to make ends meet.

It is time NEXT made work pay. If this was done, staff would not need their meagre wages to be topped up by taxpayers with family tax credits and housing benefits so as to make ends meet.

NEXT says that it is over-subscribed when offering jobs. This is a reflection on the level of youth unemployment across Europe not that NEXT jobs are so good.

That is why GMB is protesting outside NEXT stores as the Paul Heaton tour swings across Britain. GMB continues to presents ASBOs to NEXT because it is an employer that does not face up to its social responsibilities.”

Paul Heaton said “We’re proud to support the GMB campaign to give people a living wage. Times are really hard for working people at the moment and as both Jacqui and I started our working lives in poorly paid and undervalued jobs, this campaign is particularly important to us. There are people in employment, working for companies that still make massive profits in these so called times of austerity and they’re not receiving a fair or decent wage.

The GMB campaign is only asking that working people get a living wage in return for their labour. This seems a fair and reasonable request to make to all employers.”

End

Notes to Editors:

Details of GMB protests with Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott outside NEXT are as follows:

Thursday 27th Nov at 3 p.m. at 82/88 Queen Street, Cardiff, CF10 2GR
Friday 28th Nov at 3 p.m. 17-18 Dudley Street, Wolverhampton, WV1 3EY
Tuesday 9th Dec at 3 p.m. at 46 Upper Mall, Churchill Square, Brighton, BN1 2TE.